Working as a Camp Counsellor in the United States of America is simultaneously one of the most challenging and rewarding things you could ever do. By challenging, I am referring to the late nights and early mornings; the 40 degree heat and last but not least, the homesick children. You will not understand what it feels like to be completely exhausted yet feel completely at home until you’ve worked as a camp counsellor. It is in those challenges where the memories began. It is when you feel you’re at your lowest, most sleep-deprived self when someone going that extra mile for you, makes you realise what true friendship is. Most importantly, it is when you see a child face a challenge they never thought they could and you see the gleam on their face, that you realise you have the best job in the world!
Being from the United Kingdom, a land far away that hosts tea parties and croquet competitions, we do not experience the ‘Summer Camp’ phenomenon quite like the Americans. This being said, having always fantasised about going to one and meeting my long lost twin and reuniting my parents, I decided to make my dream come true. (If you did not understand my Parent Trap reference there, you need to re-evaluate your film choices). My point being, I always knew I wanted to experience ‘Summer Camp’ since I discovered what it was. For me, it was unrealistic to dream of becoming a camper, however, after hearing about ‘Camp America’ and how they send people from all different countries to camp, the dream began to seem viable.
I decided, that the best time for me to go on this adventure, would be whilst at University. This was partly because I wanted to know what it would be like to spend so much time away from home in England before venturing abroad. My application began the moment I could for 2017. I didn’t have any skills that I thought would be essential; I didn’t horse-ride, I couldn’t rock-climb and I certainly did not see myself as a lifeguard. But the world works in mysterious ways, and before I knew it, I was at camp practicing CPR on a dummy. (Training as a lifeguard was INTENSE and if you want to hear more about how I survived then click here. ) You will always have doubts about getting placed so why not just apply anyway? Chances are you will, even if you believe yourself to be skill-less like me.
A Day at Camp Grove Point
- Wake up. This was the hardest part of the day for me as I am not a morning person. If you’re like me in that sense, do not worry. Believe it or not, there are people out there who are not night owls like yourself and so you can choose amongst yourselves who does the night shift and who does the morning shift.
- Breakfast. We were given a set menu each week at our camp. My favourite breakfast was American Scones. OMG I would fly back to the States tomorrow for another one of those.
- First two activities. As a lifeguard, I would usually be at the pool or waterfront. However, there were a range of activities that would be held, and this all depended on the theme of the week and what the weather was like. Some activities were: sailing, kayaking, archery, swimming, arts and crafts, nature and Drama.
- Lunch. At home I don’t eat three meals a day but as a camp counsellor YOU WILL NEED THOSE CARBS!
- Me time. Now you’re probably wondering what the hell this is. Hopefully, the name did not discourage you to look further because it is not what you think, I promise. I referred to it as NAP TIME. A 60 minute nap makes the world of difference.
- Two more activities.
- Dinner. I remember one week at camp, ‘Bangers and Mash’ came on the menu and all the Brits were over the moon. It was just the best blessing.
- Evening Activity.
- Bed time. If you haven’t had a kid vomit or cry because they were homesick, you are looking to be able to hit your head on your pillow at around 11. As soon as that happens you will be dreaming in minutes.
My Favourite Moments
My favourite week at camp was prank week. Although it was mainly designed for the kids, us counsellors also lost many hours of sleep plotting and scheming. A few of us had planned to spider web the leadership office with wool, clingfilm their belonging and fill the room with balloons. We met at 1am to carry this out, however for the first four nights something stopped us. It’s safe to safe by night four, the one where we carried it out, we were exhausted. We found it hilarious! However what we didn’t realise was that one of the children was allergic to latex and so immediately after leadership found it, we had to take it all down. Luckily, it was only our reputation that was hurt and so it turned out to be one of the funnier moments of camp.
Another favourite week at camp was Harry Potter week. The leadership team planned it so well that even the counsellors were just as excited as the kids. At breakfast the sorting hat came round and we sorted into our houses. Leadership designed the weeks activities into which house could win the most house points. I no longer remember which team won however I do remember the Slytherin team always being accused of cheating, I wonder why…
I could ramble on all day about what my favourite moments at camp but unfortunately, I would need a whole other blog entirely (should I make that happen? Hmm…) The most important thing I will remember from camp will be the life lessons and the friendships.
What I took from Camp
Although there are challenges, these challenges make you a more rounded human being. The most important thing I learned was to not take life too seriously. I felt so detached from the outside world that all I had to worry about was putting a smile on the children’s faces and being myself. I had the privilege of being away from any boy drama and not having to worry about my appearance or impressing anyone. Every morning was a new adventure, and now a new story to share. I just love camp and I will always want to return.
To anyone thinking about working as a camp counsellor in the USA my advice is to just do it! Taking risks is what life is all about!